The Reporter
Issue 495, 26 January 2004
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Champion set for Olympic glory on Leeds-designed sled

kristan bromleyrichard bromleyBritain’s sled world champion Kristan Bromley (left) has been helped to success by his brother Richard (right), a postgraduate in mechanical engineering at Leeds.

Richard’s design helped the sled reach speeds of up to 85mph and secure four gold medals this season.

Kristan, who rides the skeleton – a one-person sled which is ridden head first – is now preparing for trials which he hopes will help carry him to Olympic glory
in 2006.

The sled system was designed by MPhil student Richard in the school of mechanical engineering, supervised by vehicle and structural dynamics specialist Dr Peter Brooks.

Richard’s research aims to continuously improve the performance of the sled even though he lacks ready access to ice to test it on.

He said: “Proving what makes a difference to sled performance is a key challenge as we have to wait until the next season to test it. But it is a hugely rewarding thing, building up knowledge every season and applying that to making the sled go faster down the ice.”

The sled hurtles down an ice course at speeds of up to 85mph. It is made of spring steel and fibreglass and measures a metre long by half a metre wide, has no brakes and is controlled by the pilot shifting bodyweight to alter the way the runners make contact with the ice.

The key problem in sled design is to ensure that aerodynamics, runner-ice interaction and control mechanisms all work together to provide the best performance.

Dr Brooks said: “The challenge at Leeds has been to design components that will provide optimum control of the sled on ice without having access to a course. That Richard has come up with a world-beating design, taking his research right through to practical application, in such circumstances is a tremendous achievement. Both Kristan, Richard and I owe a great deal to the combination of first class technical and IT support within mechanical engineering that has helped make all of this happen.”

The project is partnered by Ice Sport Technologies Ltd and funded by UK Sport as part of the British Association’s World Class Programme.

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